Archive for the ‘ DJ Exercises ’ Category

Feeling the DJ Ho Hum’s? Blow Up Your Routine

Jason Statham in The Mechanic

Jason Statham in The Mechanic

Tips adapted from Dumb Little Man: Personal Development: 5 Playfully Crazy Tips That Can Unleash Your Creative Potential and Boost Your Creativity – by Dumb Little Man.

Sigh.  You’ve burned out on your favorite playlist.  When you go out, all sets sound the same (much respect to your DJ friends but your ears have flat-lined).  You’ve maxed out on all the functions of your latest gadget.  You’re bored.   I have some tips for you to spark your DJ creativity.  Aside from the DJ exercises I’ve posted previously, try these out.  All you need is a little jolt, a little change in perspective.  That’s what boredom is, your mind is traveling and processing things the same way over and over again.

1) Make Random Connections:

“Start by picking 3 random things and try to connect them by any means possible.”   I wrote a lengthy piece about putting constraints on yourself prior to starting a DJ project to give yourself some structure and parameters.  This is just a quicker way to go about it regardless of whether you are working on a DJ project or just needing to think.  First 3 “things” that pop in your head, think through how to connect them, what are the degrees of separation between these things.  Write it all down if you can.

2) Smell Your Gear (just kidding … sort of):

This is about being one with your music, gear, DJ space.  Inspect everything about your DJing using all senses.  Close your eyes if you have to. “Be at one with every detail: the physical qualities, emotions, feelings, roles, perspective, worldview, limitations, language, history and experiences.” I know this may seem really weird but if you are easily distracted, have a lot of noise in your head, this is an easy way to block it out and immerse.

3) Turn it Upside Down

Turn everything upside down.  Been struggling with a set or not sure of direction, change the order of the tracklist starting with the last track and playing it through to the track at the beginning – work backwards.  Not feeling influenced or inspired by your usual methods and resources, try a new genre or a new place to buy music.   Layer a musical element (vocal, horns, violins, jackhammer) – don’t just let a track do all the work, layer layer layer even if it sounds awful – this is how happy accidents occur.

4) Just Make Noise

Just play.  Be noisy. Put 5 tracks on at the same time and weed out what’s not working.  Be a kid.  Be imperfect.  Bang on drums – if you don’t have anything to bang on or drum synth or drum VST – there’s an idea right there.  Sing out loud.  Dance around.

5) “Draw With Your Other Hand”

This is real DJ zen master stuff.  Try DJing blindfolded.  Use one hand only.  Start in the middle of a track, every time and just work it out.   Spin for your parents if they have never seen you do it.  The point is to create a little discomfort to liven things up.

HOW TO FIND YOUR DJ STYLE

Credit: John Matthew Photography Flickr

I’ve posted some DJ exercises in the past that hinted on developing your style as a DJ.  I’d like to write a more comprehensive piece for you.  Hopefully this will provide you the mindset to think more broadly about your style.

 
Your style starts at birth, I really believe that.  If you think about your entire life, everything you have done, everything you have seen, everything you are contributes to your style as a DJ.  For better or worse everything in your past and present directly contributes to who you are as a DJ.
Considering though that DJs love tips and lists, I have compiled a series of questions to ask yourself.  Dig deep I always say!

 
1) Growing up, what did your parents listen to?  Whether you liked it or not, you absorbed that in some way.  How is it manifesting in your musical choices?  This includes if you played a musical instrument.  Based on my research most DJs played a musical instrument at some point in their life. Get back in touch with all of that.

2) What is your role in a group or social setting?  Are you the quiet observer or the instigator (hopefully in a good way!)?  Are you the confidante, do people automatically tell you their life stories?  Figure out the role you play when you are with people and chances are that’s the type of presence or vibe you should have behind the decks.

3) Obvious! Who are your DJ and musical heroes? It’s more than that though.  Really study and experiment with different techniques and equipment.  Stretch yourself to the max.  Don’t be lazy and find what you’re really good at (are you good at drops, cuts, long blends, creating music on the fly, empathy with the crowd) – that should point you in the right direction.

4) Who are the people around you? Are you in touch with an artist community aside from other DJs? Understand that inspiration and style can come from many different places.

This is about finding your uniqueness and if it’s one thing about DJ’ing, you need to stand out and be authentic.

If you haven’t seen the DJ exercises I mentioned check these out:
The Zen DJ Challenge: http://behindthedecks.org/2012/01/26/the-zen-dj-challenge/

The What’s My Sound DJ Challenge: http://behindthedecks.org/2012/06/28/the-whats-my-sound-dj-challenge/

The Out Of My Element DJ Challenge: http://behindthedecks.org/2012/04/06/out-of-my-element-dj-challenge/

THE WHAT’S MY SOUND DJ CHALLENGE

The What’s My Sound DJ Challenge is meant for you to look closely at the elements of music that inspire you.  Perhaps you feel too influenced by the market or are stuck and need some grounding.  This is also a good exercise to help you identify your sound or style.  The big eye opener for me was at one time I thought my sound was “dark” (or that’s what I thought I should be or was told that’s what I should be), and really I was just fooling myself, because what I came to realize was that I was more “light” and “romantic”.  Give this a try – you may just learn something about yourself.

THE WHAT’S MY SOUND DJ CHALLENGE

Look at your track collection and pick 10 songs that you cannot live without.  Don’t just pick songs you got recently, really dig into your “crate” and pick ten songs.  Songs that if you were stranded on a desert island you could listen to for the rest of your life.   Don’t evaluate them yet, just pick them out.   Now, pretend those are the only tracks you have – forget about your collection.  Listen to every track. Don’t think you just know them because they’re your favorites.  Listen to them, really listen.   Now evaluate them – but evaluate them in terms of what they signify about YOU.   What are the elements of these tracks that are similar?  What sounds are you hearing that may be consistent through all of them?  Is there one theme or word that describes all ten?  These are your passion tracks.   If you have identified what makes these songs resonate with you, then you have identified your passion sound.  Moving forward, when you listen to new tracks you will evaluate new tracks in relation to what your passion sounds are.  This will help you continue to build a strong discography based on authenticity and individuality.